Hunting rule proposal would limit firearm buck kills
BY KELLY BOSTIAN World Outdoors Writer
Sunday, January 06, 2013
1/06/13 at 6:39 AM
A proposed change to deer hunting seasons is presented in an online public comment forum with a stated intent to improve Oklahoma's deer herd, but the words with the proposal don't represent an official viewpoint of Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation biologists.
The new rule, which would limit hunters to taking just one buck per year with a firearm, is forwarded on behalf of constituents interested in the change, according to Erik Bartholomew, big-game biologist for the department.
In the online comment section, the explanation for the proposed change reads: "The intent of this proposal is to reduce pressure on the buck segment of the herd in an attempt to improve buck age structure and antler quality across the state."
"It was a proposal that was brought up and it was felt that it was important enough to bring it forward and so we're doing that," Bartholmew said. "Some people think what we have going is working fine but there is a segment out there that doesn't feel that way."
Thirty-one proposed changes to hunting and fishing regulations are up for discussion through this week with the online comment tool available on the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation website at tulsaworld.com/wildlife
Written comments also can be mailed to the department and a public hearing is set for 7 p.m. Tuesday at the department headquarters auditorium, 1801 N. Lincoln Blvd., in Oklahoma City.
The deer season proposal is a compromise with those wanting to take Oklahoma to a one-buck-only season, Bartholomew said.
"They're wanting more quality bucks out there. One way to get to that is through regulations that restrict buck harvest," he said.
Several states have gone to one-buck seasons and some have zones within those states that further restrict hunters based on antler size.
Oklahoma deer hunters currently can kill up to six deer in one season, only two of which may be bucks. A single buck may be taken by muzzle-loader, modern rifle or with archery equipment but a hunter may take more than a total of two per season.
The new rule would still allow hunters to take two bucks, but one would have to be taken with archery equipment. Muzzle-loader hunters, then, would have to choose either muzzle-loader or modern rifle for their one kill with a firearm.
The state's 2011 big-game harvest report lists 11,001 bucks killed during the muzzle-loader season.
In a November interview, Jerry Shaw, the department's longtime big-game biologist and now wildlife programs supervisor, said the one-buck idea is popular now.
"It's the latest blog darling," he said. "For a long time it was culling deer, for a long time it was food plots, now it's to reduce the harvest from two to one."
Shaw said the department has tried to manage for maximum opportunity as well as producing quality deer for those who want to grow trophy-sized bucks. The department's Deer Management Assistance Program works with private landowners to improve habitat and deer populations.
"Our system isn't broken," he said. "We get more Cy Curtis (trophy) bucks every year. We harvest 100,000-plus deer every year and we are also producing quality deer. We've got the best of both worlds."
Original Print Headline: Rule change would limit firearm buck kills
Kelly Bostian 918-581-8357